Log24

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday June 21, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM
Abstraction

From Mitchell Stephens, author of a website mentioned here yesterday:

“This paper is designed to be a conversation….

The ideas are organized loosely around a single theme: the Roman leader Pompey’s forced entry into the most sacred place of the Jewish temple. At issue are the origins and prevalence of doubt, even at the heart of religion….

The paper will be initially presented, with comments and additions, to the working group on ‘Secularism, Religious Authority, and the Mediation of Knowledge’ of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University on December 8, 2006.”

From the paper itself:

“All Pompey’s intrusion into the Holy of Holies will leave behind is one sentence in Tacitus; still, it is not hard to imagine it as a media show. As he enters this hidden room in the Temple of those weird, unGreek, Asian, tribal Jews, this cosmopolitan, sophisticated Roman is not just the insensitive anthropologist. He wants, to continue our imagining, to display the lack of contents of the Holy of Holies in a museum, to take them, like the treasures of Tutankhamen’s tomb, on tour. This all-powerful Roman wields klieg lights; he brings the press. He exposes. His expedition is something of an exposé. The whole scene feels as if it might have been filmed: like Dorothy’s peek behind the curtain at the diminutive Wizard of Oz. It feels as if it might have been televised: like Geraldo Rivera’s opening of Al Capone’s ‘secret vault.’ Pompey has in common with all journalists a desire to shove a microphone in God’s face. He wants to rant about what he has learned on his blog.

In his desecration of the Holy of Holies, Pompey has with him, in other words, what Jacques Derrida, in his essay ‘Faith and Knowledge,’ calls the ‘powers of abstraction’: ‘deracination, delocalization, disincarnation, formalization, universalizing schematization, objectification, telecommunication etc.'”

Related material:

Log24 entries of
 June 9-11, 2009.

Et cetera, et cetera.

Film posters-- 'Solomon and Sheba,' 'Strange Bedfellows'

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